Published!

The Shelts went to the MUSIC BUILDS concert last weekend and volunteered. Since the music was TOO LOUD for Stan's ear, he hung out with the staff while we rocked out inside ... and he mentioned that I write a blog and volunteered me to write something for them. Like I minded! But the surprise was, they wanted my drivel! :-)

NOW ... join ONE and share some food.

Here tis.

And here are pictures to go with ...



Here's "Mr. I Got More Names than You." in action.



"Please sign my petition to stop world hunger."
JARS OF CLAY .... they're signing his HAT.
Familia ...
Fans of the FOOT.


Mirror Mirror

Blog plug: my friend Full of Joy (can I say her real name? Can't remember.) has started a Bible study on her blog. Great --- now she has a much awesomer looking blog, and now better things to say on an important topic.

But I'm not envious ... I'm glad to soak it in, and pass on the love to you.

Here's what she said about it today on our homeschool email loop.

"I have been teaching a class on Body Image that I am absolutely passionate about. I have been working to write and edit down the material in order to share on my blog. This is such an important topic for girls, and women. In learning this I felt overwhelmed with the desire to be able to pass this on to my daughter, but I was reminded that as free as I wanted my daughter from it, the Lord wanted me free from it even more. I would love for you to join the study."

Intrigued? It's an issue that hits me head on, and now I have a daughter also who's also getting this body image pressure.

Okay, I just checked and she signs some of her posts with "Tiff." So I can use her name.

Go read Tiff's study.
Here's the main blog: but scroll down to where it begins with Monday's intro.
http://fullofjoy3.blogspot.com/

Life Lesson from TR

Giles is doing a report on Theodore Roosevelt. And we've been researching the question: "how this president's spiritual life affected his term in office."

Gee, that sure hasn't been mentioned in all of the picture books we got from the library. But we did find a copy of his speech given at the dedication of the house office building on April 15, 1906.

"Materially we must strive to secure a broader economic opportunity for all men, so that each shall have a better chance to show the stuff of which he is made. Spiritually and ethically we must strive to bring about clean living and right thinking. We appreciate that the things of the body are important; but we appreciate also that the things of hte soul are immeasurably more important. The foundation-stone of national life is, and ever must be, the high individual character of the average citizen."


That TR was such a muck-raking rough rider!

Waiting for the Bus


If I could do one of those coffee table books ... that's what I would call it. "Waiting for the Bus."

It would be of pictures of the people I see around our neighborhood sitting on the benches and congregating around the stops ... waiting for the buses to take them to work, home, school, the store.

Think there's some good stories? That and a lot of wisdom.

There's a cute older couple that I see a lot. She always has an umbrella to protect against the sun or the rain (or snow). There's another lady who rides with about three kids. Another lady I know from Cross & Crown. She takes the bus to work and back every day. Yes, most people look poor. It's not so hip around here to ride the bus. But the riders are way hip. And they're savvy. They know this city, the schedules, the routes. And probably their driver's name. Fortunately, our city wants to expand our public transportation which might make it a more hip option in our greening consciousnesses ... and dwindling gasoline budgets. And I'm all for it.

My dream is to commission a real photographer, like Joy's Tapestry Photographs, to shoot it. So, do we first find a publisher? How do you do that?

In the mean time, I found this book at the library, Finding Grace: The Face of America's Homeless. And I think I'll have to buy it for my coffee table.

Amazing photography. And the best part about it is the text. Sparse and not on every picture. Certain portraits will have a paragraph ... a brief paragraph. But the story gets told. And many of those graphs bring a tear.

Waiting for the Bus.

Stuff Christians Like on Homeschooling

Haven't checked this blog lately but was humored to see this post on homeschooling!

It's kind of like the skit on SNL the other night (the Tina Fey as Palin and Michael Phelps as host episode that, yes, we all stayed up to watch and then were grumpy at church the next morning). Humorous, but could have been WAY funnier.

Thoughts? The comments on his homeschool post are interesting. Mostly, they make me sad. And I'm too chicken to say why. Kinda like I'm too chicken to get into a debate about Sarah Palin. I'm mostly for her, but my very very first thought about her before we knew anything more than her name was "I hope she's done raising her kids." Oh. Nope. And look at that new baby.

Oh well. I kind of feel the same way about Obama too ... missing out on his kids' lives to do this. (On the other hand, what a ride for those kids. Talk about educating for life!)

See, I'm not "sexist." (whatever).

Some of us are called to do MORE and can do more.

I can't.

Not Getting My Kicks

This one is hard to share ... but here I go anyway.

After our first 4-H meeting on a rainy Saturday morning, the fam stopped at a local German bakery. The kids, preferring chain food, were resistant, but the parents pressed on. Great place. Great food. We used to come here all of the time BEFORE WE HAD YOU.

There will be a little band in there and a lot of seniors. So cute! And there will be a lot of plates with food that includes kraut, schnitzel and wurst. But there will also be fantastic bagels and other treats.

Come on.

Most all of the kids were pouty (even while munching on yummy bagels and cinnamon rolls) until the band started. And we began watching people dance. So cute!

Then, Get Your Kicks on Route 66, started. And mom started swaying ... but only with her pointer fingers, thinking my only audience was at our own table. And we were all singing along.

The rest of it is a blur ...

From out of nowhere, a gentleman approached our table and grabbed my hand TO DANCE.

Oh. No. No. No. Please NO! I said.

I don't dance. (I was raised in the Church of Christ).

I have on crocs.

I don't know you.

He, uh, did not take no for an answer. And by this time had my very own husband and children helping him get me out on the dance floor.

I'll spare the rest of the clumsy details. However, I am certain the band played a few extra choruses just to carry on the mirth.

Stan was in stitches. The children were afraid for me. "We don't know him."

"Is mom ever coming back."

The song was over. I bowed to my partner. And we were outa there.

But should Stan be worried that I caught the eye of an octogenarian?

Not cute!

Current Events


When we heard President Bush was coming to Oklahoma City ... I thought it would be way cool to try to see him ... or at least see the motorcade. I wished I still had media contacts or knew rich Republicans to get us in. No such luck. But what great timing. We had immersed ourselves all week in election and presidential studies. We added to our presidential notebooks (started during the primary), chose presidents to write reports about and took online quizzes to see which president we were most alike.

Pres. Bush was here last Friday for a meeting and a high dollar fund-raiser. We watched the arrival live on TV and giggled at the local TV reporters who kept saying "I didn't realize Air Force One was so .... BIG."

He doesn't come to Oklahoma very much. Nor will the presidential candidates in this electorally thin red state. I was fine and comfy watching it on tv ...

But I was talked into doing a little motorcade stalking. Doesn't take much for me. The kids and I loaded camera and snacks. Binoculars and another camera would have been helpful. And maybe some flags.

We wandered around the area where the fundraiser was (in other words, wasted gas) ... the fundraiser was held at a little 13,000 square foot mansion built by a beer distributor (and we thought Oklahoma money was in oil and natural gas). We drove all around the area, hit roadblocks and turned around (very exciting) - Giles was sure he saw snipers hidden in the bell towers of the mansion. Counted troopers. Counted secret secret service. Counted motorcycles. Watched the helicopter overhead. (passed troopers blocking intersections ... repeatedly ... while holding my breath. I thought they'd either tell the minivan driving mom to beat it, or take us in on a stalking complaint).

We then figured out the motorcade route back and got bold enough to figure out where to stop (without getting frisked, arrested or told to vacate).

Finally, we saw a group of flag waving homeschooling kids that we knew in front of an animal kennel business (with very nice employees who were as excited as we were). Incidentally, I would have even joined some protesters, just for the educational value (and considered making a "We still love ya, double ya" sign) ... but we couldn't get close to them either.

If you haven't seen this in real life or on TV .. check out our motorcade movie. The old reporter in me wonders ... just how much money does it take out of the local economy to host our own head of state for a mere four hours for the purpose of raising money for a political party ... or how much does the nation spend on it since he gets (and deserves?) this treatment for every move he makes ... but it's just more fun to be ga-ga.

For another perspective on the visit that is hilarious, check out my friend Jim Stafford's post. He was the pool reporter and got a front row seat for the entire visit (and from whom I borrowed the big Air Force One pic).



We were positive the president waved to us!
What do you think about that dog following the action?

Finally

I can stand up and shout that I am for John McCain.

I ultimately knew I would have to support him ... or else I'd have to hide my vote from my children and my husband and the rest of you.

I was underwhelmed to say the least. I like the audacity of hope. I like "change."

But I have Rick Warren to thank for sealing the McCain deal for me. I missed his faith forum at Saddleback, but tried to watch snippets of it on youtube (does anyone know where to watch the whole thing?).

I won't get into what Obama said ... (except that he thinks if an American family makes less than $150,000 a year, they are POOR and he has no idea when life begins.)

McCain was on fire. Full of passion and totally comfortable in this setting. Consice (gotta love it) and FIRM answers. Conviction. (The other guy was NOT ... did he even finish one sentence without qualifying something?)

He had me at homeschooling.

A presidential candidate mentioned homeschooling not once, but thrice. I wish this wasn't a huge deal, but it is.

He said it in the context of school choice and said that Americans need to do what works for their families ... charters, private or HOMESCHOOL.

I was also really impacted by McCain's answer to Warren's question to name his biggest personal moral failure.

Obama, by the way, played victim a bit on this one. Blamed being raised without a father for his choices to do drugs and drink and live egocentrically (like, who hasn't done that?). That's it?

Anyway, McCain, without hesitation said, "the failure of my first marriage."

Woah. There is was. Bold and sad.

I also liked his repeated assertions that faith based organizations, and just about anyone else, does service better than the government (i.e. Katrina, homeschooling, health care coverage, serving the poor and taking care of the children)

That's it. Just had to share.

Happy Birthday Lovie!



Oh, she is NINE!
NINE.

How could it be? She fills our days with laughter, song, a bit of drama ... and JOY.







She was my date on Saturday for a Quinceañera for a beautiful young friend. We were so honored to be invited to this fantastic tradition. While I took pictures at the Myriad Gardens, Lydia patiently waited by going into "her world." She never whined. Never begged to leave. Never asked to be in the pictures since she also had on a gorgeous dress! Never even complained about her feet in those shoes. And we were there a LONG time. I would snap pictures of her, instead of the party, trying to catch "her." Skipping and twirling. Talking to the trees. Smelling the flowers. Following a butterfly. Dreaming.

She was so content. I think I scored capturing these pictures of her last days of eight.

And then later ... she partied it up like it was 1999 (the year of her birth)! Mexican dancing. Mexican games. Mexican FOOD. (and total language immersion).

One of the activities at a Quinceañera is for the birthday girl, at the ripe old age of 15, to toss a beautiful doll into a waiting crowd of little ones (like a bride tosses a bouquet). She is tossing out her childhood, as she heads toward being an adult.

Wew. We don't have to worry about that yet. Bring on the dolls. Hallelujah for a few more years (hopefully) of blissful childhood.

Today a party for Lydia. Swimming, in the rain. She won't care. But how will we keep the pinata dry?

Didn't see it on NBC

We've been Olympic Couch Potatoes this week. Watching and marvelling at Michael Phelps, and talking about that cute Nastia, Jonathon Horton and Shaun Johnson like they were our bffs.

I do want to learn how to do the Phelps dolphin kick. Think he'll give lessons?

I haven't taken off my Praying for China band since I got it. I bought 10, and passed them out. My kids wear there's intermittently (grant lost his ... but his wrist is pretty tiny).

Today, I received an email from Voice of the Martyrs saying that the man who inspired the whole Prayer for China idea has been arrested.


Here's some stuff from the email:
"Pastor Zhang “Bike” Mingxuan, known for traveling across China on a bicycle to evangelize, was arrested by Chinese police just two days before the Olympics began. Pastor Bike was the inspiration for the recent partnership between The Voice of the Martyrs and China Aid Association to create the Olympic Prayer Band.

Pastor Asks for Prayer Band
Earlier this year, Pastor Bike pleaded with VOM staff to ask Christians to pray for persecuted Christians in China during the Olympics. The pastor voluntarily preaches the gospel openly in China despite being persecuted. He has asked for his identity to be revealed to bring continued attention to the persecution of Christians in Communist China.

Thanks to Pastor Bike’s inspiration and the commitment of concerned Christians across the United States, more than 800,000 prayer bands have been circulated. On Aug. 6, Pastor Bike was arrested while trying to deliver medicine to his ailing wife. His wife and another pastor were also arrested. We have also learned this week that Chinese officials are opening a full investigation of the Olympic Prayer Bands that were distributed to house church members within China. Despite this increased pressure from Chinese authorities, Chinese Christians continue to ask for prayer and to make their plight known.

Order your Prayer Bands today!
As the Olympics goes on, the harassment of Chinese evangelists continues to increase. Please help remind others to pray for persecuted Christians like Pastor Bike by ordering your prayer bands today!

More about Pastor Bike
Pastor Bike, president of the Chinese House Church Alliance, rode his bike more than 10,000 miles, visiting 24 Chinese provinces to introduce nonbelievers to Jesus Christ. Armed with a Bible and his business card, which declared “Believe in Jesus, Earn Eternal Life,” Pastor Bike brought the gospel to thousands of people. He and other Chinese evangelists have been repeatedly harassed by Chinese officials during this Olympic year. Please pray for the release of Pastor Bike and his wife.


Of course, they are still hawking the bands. Still want us to BUY them. So the cynic in me rises up. Is this just a way to make money? And the doubter also rises up to wonder ... "is this what our prayers are doing? ... getting this dude arrested?"

Then, I feel shame. Who cares? They need money. They need our prayers.

God will be glorified. Even while Pastor Bike and his wife are in jail. Let's pray for him. And pray for Christians in China to be protected AFTER the world looks away.

What happens at Deer Run ...

Well, not really. Deer Run stays here in our hearts. Giles just returned from his second year at Camp Deer Run, a one week "overnight" church camp in E. Texas ... five hours away. 

Last year we left him and came home. Besides being that far away from my "baby," it's a brutal trip - there and back Sunday and there and back on Friday. 

This year, his brilliant mother, and two brilliant mom peeps had the idea we'd stay down there all week in a cabin and let our younger ones go to the day camp. Down Sunday. Back Friday. The only caveat was having to drive the church van. But that was no big ... even with a tire blow out! (What was that boom and why do we hear air blowing? Let's just say three women and 17 kids CAN git r done, thanks to the wonderful folks in Antlers, OK.)

To say that Giles LOVES this camp would be a huge understatement. He dreams it. Relives it. And talks about it every single day. He could not wait.

When we got there, I parked while he got his cabin assignment. Once he found out he was NOT in a cabin with the other guys from our group, he gave a big shout out and raced off to his cabin where he knew no one. 

The moms ran the circuit of settling all of our kids in, making bunks, greeting counselors, praying and hugging. (btw - it was about 100 degrees.)

When I got to Giles' cabin, I offered to make his bunk and settle him in. NO. 

I was shewed away. 

I barely got a hug and a "see ya"out of him.

This could have been hard on a mom's heart. Uh, it was a little hard on this mom's heart. 

But as I was about to let myself have a pity party, I had an overwhelming sense of peace.

"Your son is independent. He is secure. He has courage. He LOVES his parents. He loves God. Give him this week. He is going to be a MAN."

On pick up Friday, in heavy rain ... all (except one) of our kids were waiting to go home. Hugs for us, their transport to their waiting parents. Ready.

We were nearly loaded ... and entirely soaked in the rain. Giles was MIA.

I found him in the mess hall. Sitting in a corner with a few new BFFs (Texans, even). They were tattooing each other with their phone numbers on skin and tshirts.

He was fighting tears after I told him it was time.

On the bus, driving away, Giles was so quiet and let the tears fall. I heard one kid say he couldn't wait to get home and feed his video game addiction. Another one couldn't wait to get his cell phone back, and his bed.

I had a flashback to 1987 when Stan and I were on a plane leaving Paris and headed back home after a fantastic semester traveling in Europe with a group from college (yes, we got credit!) All of our compatriots were jubilant. Home. America. McDonalds. Baseball. 

Stan and I cried. We knew it was over. 

Precious boy. Live it. Soak it in. And we'll figure out how to get you there for two weeks next year!

But as a little payback, I am posting this dork picture of him. On Wednesday night, we visited camp for a community worship service. We got lots of hugs from our campers ... but had to FORCE Giles to take this picture with us.

Skool Shmool

Getting excited and about to get ready. But resentful of all of the "back to school" hype.


When school was letting out last May, we would be asked when our last day of school was. My typical response is "never." 

We're educating for life! So it's never over. Plus, that was the guilt ridden homeschool mom answer to being able to catch up or measure up or one up.

But when summer hit (when the school kids got out), it was OVER. And I was relieved. I needed the break. They needed a break.

Mostly I needed the break just to let myself off the hook of feeling like a failure at the end of every day or week. Or that we didn't do enough ... or that TOMORROW will be the day we figure this out.

Educating for life. 

I really need my support homeschool group. I'm letting the guilt, satan and feelings of inadequacy creep in. 

Wouldn't they be better off in school?
Doesn't everyone else's family do it better ... or correctly?
Who am I kidding?

Wew. This entry is all over the place. A true journal thought that has no business on the internet ... but keepin' it real. Keepin' it real.

So now the question ... when are you starting school again?

NEVER. 

We're educating for life.

And going on vacation when everyone else goes back to school (taking our school with us, of course!).

That's how we roll.





Wearing ...


Do NOT ask me where these were made. I don't want to know. 


Got these in the mail today from Voice of the Martyrs to remind us to pray for China and the persecuted Christians there as the eyes of the world are on the Olympics.

Maybe it's okay that these were made in China!


Baseball Camp


Here is a quick slideshow from our baseball camp on Saturday. The boys ranged in age from seven to teen. Some had NEVER had a ball glove on. By the end of they day though ... they were hooked. I need to work on making videos that appear small ... cuz I know these image are fuzzy. They look better ... bigger. Fun day.

Oh. The slipnslide was part of the day's activities. How else do you learn to slide into first base?

The best part of the day was on the way home. I asked them the best part of the day. One guy said the best part was the centers, where they broke up into small groups to work on various skills. Because, he said. "That's when we got to know each other better." Everyone agreed.

Shock factor

God tells us not to live of the world while we live in it, but sometimes it might be helpful to brush up against the world to remember what we're dealing with when we are safe in our homes, reading our Bibles quietly, planning a nice dinner and meeting our friends for coffee.


And I am not talking about what we watch on TV. 

Although the scene I am about to describe most of us have seen played out on the tube before.

So last Saturday morning, early, right before 8, G and I were at Rock Island (part of Cross & Crown mission) to pick up some kids to go to baseball camp that my nephew, Chaney, did a fantastic job organizing. 

We were waiting for some more kids to come. Chandy was in the van and I was sort of in the street talking to her. (One of us better blog about the baseball camp soon, because it was such a super great HOT day. I am working on a little slideshow to show off my 250 pictures that I took).

As we chatted, a little old SUV drove right by me. I was all neighborly and waved and smiled. "Hey!"

Then it's like my brain went into reverse and replayed the seconds right before that vehicle drove by me (just like on TV).

Didn't he just stop and pick her up down the block?

Are they?

Is that?

For real?

I looked at Chandy with my "are they doing what I think they are doing" look.

Yep.

The girl looked to be introducing herself to him, but she already looked pretty strung out ... a requirement for her line of work. The guy was looking straight ahead.

This is the kind of thing that stops me in my tracks, every time. I just wanted to cry out to God (which I silently did) and go grab that girl. I never do that though. 

Giles didn't observe any of this, I don't think. He was bonding with the Rock Island kids in the back of the mission van. Doesn't matter though. He's seen it already. One time, a girl in that same line of work FLASHED our van as we drove by one Sunday morning after we picked up someone for church. 

Shocking! Yes. Good grief. We were going to CHURCH ... we were all clean and ready to go worship God. She shouldn't have been flashing us, or trying to score a job on Sunday morning. Geez.

Love her for flashing the minivan. She knew it was full of a bunch of hypocrites.


Not Green


Even if it's on sale ... those cute graphic tshirts at places like Target might remind us to be more green ... but they are not green. 


I was tempted tonight though. 30 percent off!

Something deep in my consciousness flicked on to alert  me ... THAT IS NOT A GREEN TSHIRT.  

Go on ... check the label. You know it's made in a sweat shop somewhere, probably by children or at least men or women who are woefully underpaid. How else could it be marked for $8 or whatever.

How much fossil fuel did it take to get that Tshirt here for me to buy it on sale? On the ships to get it from their coasts to our coasts, and the trucks to haul it across the country.

Guess where it was made? The Philippines. Other "green" shirts were made in Guatemala and Cambodia.

Learning.
Learning to not buy cheap c$#p anymore.

Learning not to eat asparagus anytime other than early spring. If you eat it "fresh" in the hot summer or dead of winter ... think of where in the world it might be springtime or mild enough to have it grow and what it took to get it to you. (learned that from the Kingsolver book, Animal Vegetable Miracle).

Just finished East of Eden (thank Sojo Ann! for the book recommendation). And, how does a Steinbeck classic figure into this ramble? Ah! There's a big scene where Adam Trask wants to utilize the just built railroads and new refrigeration processes to send southern California lettuce to New York, in the winter. As a delicacy. That's how it started. Lettuce in the winter. Grapes (that lost their seeds) in the winter. Sweet potatoes in the summer.  Delicacies turn to market demand and expectation. And that's why we can find bananas on every grocery store shelf in America. Anyone you know have a banana tree?

We are doomed. Doomed!

Learning.  Laughing. 

(UPDATE: Laughing because we will never give up bananas at our house. Mr. Anti-Sodium would not have it. What would he put his organic locally produced (no sodium) peanut butter on? Laughing because he's laughing at me over this post. Laughing because someday we might move to where bananas grow! Yay!)

Refreshing!


I'm reading Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal Vegetable Miracle, a year of food life.
Love it although it scares me! 

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of understanding, and so it goes with the food God gave us. I'm "beginning" to understand it. And it's about time.

This book is a narrative non-fiction ... no black mamba snakes from the Congo like in her beloved Poisonwood Bible.

The most amazing thing about the book is not so much what Barbara (I feel I can use her first name) and her husband (Steven L. Hopps) write ... but it's their daughter's contributions also. Their 19-year-old (at the time) daughter.

Camille Kingsolver contributed most of the recipes. She just didn't type them in for her mom to get her name in the author credits. They are her recipes that SHE cooks and has cooked for years. And she not only knows how to can, but she loves it more than shopping at the mall! You go Camille.

Beautiful stuff. The scariest and saddest part as it would apply to our life is that their family swore off CAFO (feedlot beef) over a decade ago ... and their youngest daughter has never had a restaurant burger before. Yes, dear ones, that means she knows not of the Happy Meal. 

Dang. My oldest son is about their daughter's age. And I shudder to think of the happy meals, big kids meals and now value meals that he, and the rest of us, have consumed. We are doomed. Doomed.

Reminds me that even though I am trying ... I still get tricked. I got tricked just this week at Walgreens buying school supplies for a nickle with my coupons (mechanical pencils, anyone?). I also had a coupon that worked for trail mix or dried fruit. After having a wonderfully friendly employee help me find the proper package, I saw that the coupon worked for dried blueberries. Dried blueberries on sale. Lucky me. Yay. I imagined them on salads, tossed with our fresh peaches and thrown in smoothies.

I had a little taste when we got home. Kind of funky. THEN, and only then, did I look at the package. Ingredients: blueberries and the evil high fructose corn syrup. It might not have even been in that order.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  WHY? WHY? WHY? Why do we need soak our beautiful naturally sweet and perfect blueberries in CHEMICAL CORN? 
Foiled again.
Always. Read. The. Package. Closely.
Or dry your own blueberries like the Kingsolver's would do. 

In other food news, our awesome college friend Kevin has a website chronicling his journey back to health. If you look at his pictures and see the June post ... you'll see the Kevin we knew when we were college brats touring Europe together (along with Full of Joy and her parents when she was but a young lassie) ... back in the 1980s! Check out his green smoothie recipe. Really. It is GOOD.  Really. I just made one ... spinach, fresh peaches, banana, ice (and no chemical blueberries).


Widows and Orphans

While I'm swiping videos from other sources, here's a small vid we did last week for Cross & Crown Mission that "aired" Sunday at a local suburban church. Paul spoke on James 1:27 ... the widows and orphans verse.

I love The Message's interpretation of that verse. "Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world."

Here's how I had always read that verse from the good old NIV:
"27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

I like the Message's "homeless and loveless." Nails it.

Loveless. Doesn't that stop you in your tracks? Love the loveless. Man, that is HARD.

I was surprised when Paul wanted me to "feature" one of the orphans they take care of at the mission. He's not a baby or a little kid. He's 20. We have a heart-wrenching answering machine message from him (in this vid). He gets cared for at the mission ... and loved through the trouble he gets into, the "harassing" he might do to get some cash or meal cards ... and how he fights his demons. He's an orphan. 

The widow in this vid is a neighbor. She is blind and frail and scared of the sounds she hears in da hood around her. She has the most beautiful little hands. She's been a "widow" since 1942!

Read the Bible to her. Hold her hand. Bring her some blackberries. Love on her. Listen to her stories. It's all it takes.

Do you ever have an overwhelming feeling of panic sometimes that God is going to hold us accountable for how his church did not take care of the widows and orphans (homeless and loveless)? The way we have let the state take care of them through behemoth bureaucracies that are inefficient, overwhelmed and cold? (Not saying the church doesn't do it, sometimes, or that all state workers are cold.)

I do. What should we do about it? 

Okay, I'm sliding back into my hidey hole now. Just typing words ...

Stealing ... cardboard testimonies.

Is it stealing? I don't know.

But my friend, Keli, sent me a link to this video. She doesn't have time to forward stuff or spend eight minutes watching (with her four precious bebes) ... and you think you don't have time either. BUT MAKE THE TIME.

I'll save you a little search time, this comes from Hillside Christian in Amarillo.

Now, this is church.

Mercy

When I'm rocking along whining about my kids wanting cell phones and "mall" clothes, I meet a new gal at the mission today who brings a little perspective to what we're dealing with in this world.

Cross and Crown opens at 11 and the staff prays at 10:30.We got there during that time, and so we waited outside with the others who were there for prayer and food. I sat next to a lady, and started some chitchat. How are you, I asked. Not great. She said. Then I'm thinking ... DUH, what'd I ask that for? She was there, right? She needs HELP, doesn't she? Get a clue, I said to myself.

She was older and had some pretty impressive tats, including a cool tat ankle charm bracelet complete with tat charms that included a cross.

Anyway, the conversation finally opened beyond the weather and "how are yous" ... and pretty soon I found out she's raising her grandkids because her kids are in prison (drugs). The preschool age child wants to see her mom all of the time. The older child doesn't.

Add to that, gasoline is too expensive to make as many trips to the pokey that is in another town.

She's had heart trouble and a stroke ... no doubt exasperated by the added stress in her life. Can you imagine?

Mercy.


He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

Welcome to Minco



Love Lucas Ross. Famous OC alum. Hilarious. He doesn't know me from a hill of beans or a beehive, but I know who he is. Just heard about this vid today ... and laughed and laughed.

Summer Trends


I've been wanting to snap this picture all summer. G and his buddies sit in front of us each Sunday morning. And each Sunday, they have on their plaid shorts. I feared they wouldn't let me take a picture of their backsides or flaunt their fashion savvy in this way. AND, I confess, I actually took this DURING our worship service. But at least I tried to be discreet (no flash!) ... so the picture isn't the best.


Then there are the girls. And what I call the Kit hairdo, that I wonder if I myself could pull off. There's a whole gaggle of 7 - 10 year old girls who are precious in every way. Young enough to ALL be best of friends without boys, jealousy and icky junk interfering with their sweetness and giggles. Every week, there's another one who shows up with THE hair cut of the summer. Wonderfully adorable. (I took this AFTER service ... but wish I'd try to art direct a little more. But as cute as they are, they didn't get WHY I wanted to take a picture of the back of their hair.)

These trends are easy, but I am finding myself more and more distressed and ill equipped to handle the intense pressure of hearing from my kids about what "everyone else" has. Cell phones at ten years old? (Do their parents know they are texting at midnight?) Ipod nanos (we have one shuffle in the house and it is MINE). Bikinis (yes, even at 8 or 40). Abercrombie (I might write about that some day). It's tough. When that was rolling around my head today, I read this from Many Meadows. She rules. Her post on comparing helps put it in perspective - being content, understanding (2 Cor 10:12) ... AND ... not conforming to the pattern of this world (Rom 12:12) ... which is a lot easier for me to DO myself (at this old age) than it is to explain or communicate EFFECTIVELY to my children. Do I have any amens? Do I have any advice?

I am ...


4-0!
it happened in the midst of a sweet spa-la-la weekend with my sweetheart!


Good times.


Hours and hundreds of seconds left

before I'm cuarenta anos.

Tiny Stops of the Road to Bountiful


Carrying the camera with me in the mornings along with hoe and hose seems silly to some (probably because camera doesn't start with an "h" like hoe and hose).

So ...

Carrying the camera with me in the mornings along with coffee cup and clippers seems silly to some.

Stan is a bit embarrassed that I am taking pictures of our sparse garden babies. Somehow, it doesn't honor our heritage ... or pay tribute to the generations before us who were the salt of the earth. Those before us who dug the wells that we drink from (Deut. 6) ... who planted gardens and crops to feed themselves and survive (and fail). Who dug so that we could have "professional" jobs and live in the big city and have clean hands.

Who toiled and tilled. And got their hands dirty.

The earth skipped ME somehow ... the spoils of grocery stores and money and fast food. And being a spoiled kid. Why didn't I pay attention when mom and grandma were canning all of those green beans, vegetable soup and tomatoes in our basement with that giant canning contraption that made a lot of noise and seemed like it would explode any second?

One story of our family lore that my grandparents LOVED to tell on me is how I would bawl and squawl when mom forced me out to the green bean patch to pick. I would cry all the way down the rows. I remember that garden. Each of the 5,000 rows was five miles long. I was afraid of snakes out there. What's hilarious to me now is that we were in MICHIGAN where there are no scary snakes (hardly). Blue racers were scary, but they weren't much in the garden. I was petrified of garden snakes. Why?

Then we had to snap ALL of those stinkin' beans! My grandparents would sometimes take pity on me and take some of my snap load when mom wasn't looking, or let me have popsicle breaks. I think I would have wanted to smack me. Right now, I would give to have a big bowl of them to snap and eat raw. TOO YUMMY. Sitting there with Grandma and Grandpa Giles.

Life is easier when we do not dig our wells. But easy isn't always better.

Thanks God for letting us relearn the lessons we squandered.

Sunset By Grant




Grant (6) snapped this shot on the evening of Friday last. Sometimes, it's not so bad to turn our world 90 degrees (or is that about 65 degrees?).  Our friend (name dropping) Dave with OKCKAYAK.COM had invited us to be part of the background when the crew from Discover Oklahoma came out to do a piece on the sport of flat water kayaking ... and Dave's niche biz. It's supposed to air on July 12. We did that, then whipped over to another part of the lake to eat our picnic while the boys fished and the sun went down (Grant grabbed the camera after he hooked his line in the rocks for the 100th time). 


I finally got in the water. I am HOOKED. Love it. Friday night in the big town.

Nope.

still not "that."


Don't fear crazy cats. No breakdown here or anything! Just enjoying the last week of an AWESOME decade of my life. As I told my friend Beatrice (her HS name in our French class .. if only I could remember how to type accents), the 30s RULED ... and I plan on the 40s being rulier.


I am still not ...

forty.

I am not ...

forty.

BOUNTY!




This is what we've pulled from our garden so far! These were plucked a couple of weeks ago from our pitiful little pea plants that we planted too late for our hot days. I do have a little lettuce outside that is coming in today, enough for a SMALL salad, but the spinach didn't make it either ... it got a good little start though before it got too hot. Plant it in early spring? Oh. I'll remember that next year. (Stan already knew all of this, of course. But I planted most of those seeds while he was at work). 

Next year ... we'll try that much earlier.

We didn't plant any annuals this year, in our long front "beds" where we usually spend a lot of money to plant periwinkles .... Instead, we have tomatoes and green beans! Along with a couple of squash, pepper and eggplant. I know my neighbors are horrified. But won't they be pleased if I bring over a basket of veggies later this summer?

I got a gorgeous basil plant this week at the Farmer's Market. And am growing cilantro, rosemary, thyme, chives, parsley and mint (for iced tea, dahlin'). Hurry up tomatoes ... salsa is calling!

Fifth Quarter Faith



Just heard today that our friend Eric Littleton has this new ministry. So, I'm helping spread the word here so like two more people will know about it.

He and Marci are some of my fave people in the world. On fire for God. On fire to raise their family to be God followers. Catch their fire! And book him.

The Church Has Left The Building, Part 2





This is us at Lake Hefner Sunday with a couple of hundred people picnickin, boatin and chillin.

My biggest disappointment of the day was that I didn't get out on the water. Grrr. I've been wanting to do this, but we have another opp with our friend, Crazy Dave, with OKCKAYAK.COM, pretty soon, so I'll wait.

It was a ton of fun to take 250 pictures of the event with our church family (although pretty crummy shots of my own fam. doh). We're doing this "series of fortunate events" as an alternative to the craziness of VBS. Sunday's fortunate event was kayak and picnic at the park. Great fun. LOW organization and stress. EASY to pull off. No glue, costumes or paint required. And FAMILY FOCUSED (imagine that, a church event that doesn't "require" childcare or dropping your kids off to run to the mall! Bonus!)

And it got us out of the building, where we could pull in other parkees to join us. We could tell them ... "boat with us. eat with us." They would ask ... "how much does it cost?" We would say, "IT'S FREE." Because we're not buying paint and glue for VBS! That look of shock and awe ... "Really? It's free. You don't mind if we join you or eat your awesome food?" PRICELESS.

The church has left the building.

The church has left the building

Someday I'll get into the whole story of finding my new birth sister, and all of that. It's still pretty raw, and new, and freaky, and glorious.

It's coming up on 40 years ago that our birth mom gave one of us to a family to raise because she did not want her baby to live as a "bastard" (quote). The other one of us was born a couple of years later to a young couple struggling in a marriage. But her dad walked out on her and she never knew him.

One of us got the parents - intact. One of us got a broken family.

Both of us have the same Father.

One of us knew about Him her whole life - had a church upbringing, but didn't KNOW Him. One of us lived in a home (sometimes a commune, even, for real) where He was feared and loved, but where there was hiding because of sin and shame, and not feeling "welcome" in church.

We both found the Real Father.

It's funny, that when I met my new sister, she was disappointed that I was already a believer. (I think that's really funny).

She planned to convert me if I ever found her.

She might get her dream. She's a new believer. On fire. Passionate. In love with Jesus. And at peace with her life ... her mom's short life ... and her dad's choices.

I've shoved a lot of this to the back burner recently. Too much. But she's back. Our congregation had an event this week, that wasn't even dubbed an "outreach" ... it was just fun kayaking/picnic on the lake. But it was church out there in that park and on that lake. It reminded me of my sister's awesome church where they wear tshirts that say "the church has left the building" when they go out and serve.

This post was intended to gush about our fun Father's Day at the lake with pictures and everything. How this came out, I don't know. But I let it flow!

And now, I'm turning down the burner to let those flavors meld some more. (I first used simmer instead of meld, but that sounds angry. Melding is better.)

Not ashamed


I am not ashamed of the gospel and I am not ashamed to copy and paste and share this email I received today from our friends Bryan and Holly Hixson who are serving in Rwanda (or to steal a photo of a Rwandan sunset from their blog). They are doing awesome work ... all related to glorifying God, but ranging from teaching, months of wrangling over an outrageous water bill with the local utility, to ministering to genocide victims ... oh, and bumping elbows with the country's president.

They are such name droppers!

To see photos of their beautiful family and the beautiful country, go here
.

Hixson June Post:
Not Ashamed of the Gospel

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes…" (Romans 1:16)

As we finish month ten in Rwanda, I am mindful of the verse above and I wonder if my actions and words daily reflect someone who is unashamed of the gospel of Christ. I wonder if what people observe and hear reflects Jesus. I believe that all of our interactions with people either influence others negatively or positively for Christ. We are either for God or against God. In Rick Warren's book, The Purpose-Driven Church, he writes that there are two kinds of churches: growing churches and dying churches. I believe there is a spiritual parallel: growing people or dying people. We try too often to take positions of neutrality when God would call us to stand unashamed. Ask yourself whether your actions proclaim that you are not ashamed of the gospel when you take the positions you take, when you speak specific words, or when you take certain actions.

Living in a culture where it is virtually impossible for us to blend in makes us feel as if we are livng in a "fish bowl". As we walk the streets of Rwanda, it seems that all eyes are upon us. The constant stare can be very annoying, but it can also be very convicting. At times I wonder if this is what it must feel like to be a famous person who never gets a break from the eyes of onlookers. What I'm convinced of is that it does put us in a position of greater responsibility to reflect Jesus. As a young person, I remember hearing over and over that "you may be the only Jesus some people see." It sounds like an old cliché, but I believe it to be true. At minimum, I believe each set of eyes upon us represents one more opportunity to positively influence others, unashamed of the gospel.

A day in our life in Rwanda can mean that we will encounter those with incomes of less than $1/day, followed by a meeting with a cabinet member or ambassador. When I'm among those in poverty, it seems hard for most of them to see me as little more than a walking dollar bill. I would prefer that they see a child of God, but I wonder how. Some might say that, by giving them money or bread, I have shown them Jesus. I can certainly fill an occasional tummy, but the question lingers--how can I help to fill the soul? This question constantly stares us in the face, and there is often no obvious answer. I'll share with you two vastly different experiences that represent opportunities to answer this looming question.
A group of 8 boys ages 8-12 gathered at the door of my vehicle to ask for money. With sixteen hands forced into my window, my gut brought me to a mix of frustration and empathy. My heart told me I must do something, but my head said, "but how can you help so many?" As I wrestled in my head with how to respond, I saw another young boy coming toward the car with a small toy bicycle he had made from a clothes hanger and fabric. I had no need to buy the roughly hewn toy but, for the one dollar he asked, I knew he would have more than the average person for the day and possibly a lesson could be taught. I gave him 500 Francs and he skipped away in joy with the money above his head in celebration. The other boys watched him as though they were trying to understand why he was able to skip away happy and they were not. Their hands all fell to their sides and their minds followed their peer in wonder. Unfortunately, these children should be enjoying the years of playing with friends, followed by cookies and milk. Instead, they worry about finding their next meal.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, yesterday we had an encounter with President Kagame. As our family ate in a new coffee shop, the President and his family entered (surrounded by a cloud of security guards, of course). As they walked to the protected area where they would eat, His Excellency (as he is most often referred to here) stopped and patted Alexis on the shoulder. She glanced up and he asked her how she was doing. At first, she didn't look closely enough to realize who was speaking to her. I spoke up and said, "How are you Mister President?" She looked again, a little shocked that the President was standing there with his hand on her shoulder. He greeted each of us, including our guest, Erin Estep (who is here working with the Let's Start Talking program). We visited for a few minutes before he went on to his table with his family. He came by again for a few minutes and inquired about how we were doing in Rwanda and thanking us for feeling comfortable enough to live here. He was very warm and genuine in his conversation, which reminded me that he is just another man in God's creation, but with a great burden of a nation on his shoulders. I stood humbled by this man who has led a nation from one of the darkest periods of humanity to a nation that is becoming one of the greatest leaders on a continent. I realize that those boys with outstretched hands are a burden we share because of the positions God has given us. My reaction to the boys was based on both a policy of the President and a conviction of my faith. At that moment, I realized that from the poverty-stricken boy, to me as a middle-class American, to the leader of a nation, God has placed us in the same place at the same time for a purpose. I have to ask myself, "What is my purpose in this moment?" Once again, I am reminded of Romans 1:16. At least one purpose is to demonstrate to those around me, regardless of their status on this earth, that "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ."

You may not see a child begging for a dollar or meet a President in your favorite coffee shop this week. However, you can still demonstrate the gospel to your spouse, to your neighbor, to your children, or to the cashier at a store who has had a rough day. How will you demonstrate that you are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ today?
God has blessed us through many people who enable us to serve in Rwanda. If God has blessed you in a way that you are able to partner with us in monthly or one-time giving please find details below for how contributions can be made. We are sustained on a range of monthly and one-time gifts and honor all giving of any amount as a blessing from God though His faithful servants.

But and stuff to read


Go read this post by cool Jon at Stuff Christians Like. I love to read this for giggles, but no giggling with this one as he tells us about an orphanage in Kenya that suffered during the violent political power struggle earlier this year. Reminds me, that while this was going on, our dear friends were "stuck" in that very region and in neighboring Rwanda trying to bring home their sons who spent their first months in another orphanage.

They're home, and they're one big happy family. And every day God shows them, and all of us who are thrilled to be part of their lives, how those boys were destined to be part of this fam ....

We were all over the news THEN. I confess, it has slipped from my radar since.

The causes are big - there and here. The need is great. BUT WE WHOLLY RELY ON THE LORD.

To bring up another part of the world, I've been reading about tea. Who's read Three Cups of Tea ? (thanks for the copy, Penny) I finished yesterday, over a hot cup of tea (NOT made with rancid yak milk) and made curry for dinner last night (sans goat meat). We trust that WE WHOLLY RELY ON THE LORD because the Afghans and Pakistanis apparently can't trust the Americans to do what we promised. The book is not really about that ... but it is about taking the triteness out of a cliche ... "one person can make a difference."

We can make a difference, and with God, all things are possible.

I think I have more to say about it later ... have you read the book?
I'm interested in getting the kids in on Pennies for Peace.

Sweet Sixteen

May 30, 1992!


On our anniversary, I had planned on posting a love story. But life was happening, and I try to be fully involved when that's going on, so we've been living our love story, I've not been writing about it!

Some have heard Stan freely admit that he has a crush on the pioneer woman. (I am purposefully not linking to her here because I am so jealous). He has read her site. Loves it. He even googled her enough to find out where they really live (she need not fear he'll show up), and that there are pioneer woman haters out there. Why? But really, there are blogs that dis her. Poor girl.

Her writing is engaging and funny. Her photography is artistic and beautiful. But I think one of the real reasons that she has such appeal is because of the way she loves her man ... the Marlboro Man.

She gushes every time she writes about him.

What man doesn't want to be a Marlboro Man? Gee, I sound like John Eldridge.

But it's a reminder of how much we need to love our men. My Marlboro Man is amazing. Not sure I have it in me to write our own Black Heels to Tractor Wheels love story. But I bet I love my man more than she loves hers. So there!

Seriously, it might be a great exercise to recount and record our own Black Heels to Tractor Wheels which in our case, should be called ... hmmm .... I better think on that a while? Any ideas?

Here's about where it began. When we had matching hair ... this is probably taken in the year of marriage! :-)

Island Schooled

We took advantage of 50 cent day at the "dollar movie" this week to see Nim's Island. For $2, the kids and I enjoyed a fantastic summer delight. I think I liked the movie more than they did.

And it had me from the opening scene narrated by Nim (Abigail Breslin soon to star as Kit Kittredge later this summer).

She said something like this when describing her amazing life on a private island with her marine biologist father:

"I am home schooled ... or island schooled ... I love to read books."

Then it shows her pouring through the trove of books that are her friends, and you see her imagination fired up as the pictures in those books, such as World Book encyclopedia, come to life.

She was educating for life!
Awesome.

The girl is super smart. Very creative, industrious, independent and adventurous.

Her best friends are a seal, a pelican, a sea turtle and a lizard. Yay for girls who love lizards!

When the power goes out in their "hut" ... she fixes it herself, enabling her to get back on the family MAC! When the Jodie Foster character needs some information about volcanoes, Nim dons her climbing gear and expertly climbs one to take a look around.

Definitely a fantasy adventure that pays tribute to our imagination!
And educating for life.

The lights are on ... la casa es vacía

If you watched Lion King 1 1/2, and you only did if you had a pre-schooler in your house in the early 21st century, you might remember that scene where Nala is passionately and patiently explaining and re-explaining to Timon and Poomba the travails of the pride's life since Simba left them.

The whole time Timon and Poomba don't hear a word she says because they keep wondering whether she's going to eat them.

I am not afraid of being pounced on by my patient and passionate friends, but alas, the lights are on but no one is home in my head when it comes to the whole CVS thing where you get a lot of stuff that doesn't cost any real money.

It's been explained. I've read websites. I've had blog posts written just for me.

Still.

What? How? Why?

But we want to save money on things like toothpaste and Fiber One cereal (which has, by the way, the most grams of fiber of any similar product, and the lowest sodium. Trust me. I know this)! And we want to be debt free and spend $6.70 on our monthly grocery bill (and have fresh goat's milk from our farm ... might as well continue the fantasy).

I've had the CVS card on my keychain for so long (probably when it dumped Eckerds) that it's worn, but not from use. Just from riding around with the BassPro and grocery store "rewards" cards. As I explained to my neighbor and CVS Expert Jan (who never posts anymore but who has apparently twittered) ... the other big chain pharmacy is so much more convenient to the house. It's not across a big intersection like CVS.

I've clipped coupons for years. I use them ... but have never gone crazy with it.

But I'm trying CVS this week. They have 3 boxes of Fiber One for $10 (which in my mind is NOT a deal, really ... ) but apparently with coupons - that I have, elusive savings-that I'm figuring out and waving a magic wand ... I can get these for a steal.

Warning to all CVS diehards. If I'm getting in on this ... CVS is close to pulling the plug on the whole deal. It's my day-late-dollar-short luck. Hopefully not this time.

Bad news


What kind of sick person uploads a picture of her own feet that are badly in need of a pedi and whose toes match the grass in the back yard? Me. Because of the sad sad story I read in the paper today.




Headline: As all-day gear, flip-flops flop, research shows

I have to read it in the paper instead of listening to my better half, the gait, posture, balance analyzer and PT extraordinaire, who regularly predicts my future back, hip and foot pain.

Now studies show we are only supposed to wear flops at the beach and after a grueling game of futbol for post-game relief.

DRAG! He's right ... or he's wrong along with all of the fine folks at Auburn who studied a bunch of feet.

Given the options - sand or soccer career, I think it's time to move to the beach house.

Curbside parking

Where are the pictures?

It is confirmed, that to some extent, probably more than I should, I think BLOG. I blame the newshound in me ... it's deep. Something happens. I must tell. I must blog.

Something happened last night and I wasn't even here to tell about it. I'm telling anyway.

Let's pretend I'm writing this for radio ...

Screeching tires and a crash interupted a quiet evening in a near northwest side historic neighborhood (oops, that's not present tense, as all news leads should be, but I never hear it on air anymore either).

The clamor signaled the end of a police chase where a stolen car crashed into a curb on the corner near the home of 10-year-old Giles Shelton.

(sound bite) "It was wild. We saw four guys get out of the car and start running everywhere. Then the police came and the police chopper."

Shelton said he wasn't afraid. But the family did stay inside behind locked doors until the ongoing drama drew them outside again. By that time, all of the neighbors were outside pointing out which way they saw the suspects scattering through backyards and sidewalks.

In the end, two juveniles were arrested at a nearby church parking lot. They led authorities to an adult male who allegedly masterminded the theft. He's in jail too.

No word on the driver, another passenger ... or when the Honda Civic was returned to it's owner.

###


I got the version of events this morning. I asked them if they took pictures. NO! Good thing I wrote this for radio.

The thrill of third, the agony of the double hoop

I am not a coach. This piece of self-evaluation came to me during our foray into the Home School Olympics this week. And it became painfully more clear as I navigated my children through their combined 14 events, along with the throng of other young Olympians.

I'd rather be a photographer. Looking into my viewfinder is where I was when Giles ran his first event, 50 yard dash. When I popped my head out of the camera, I was a little surprised to see that he was the last one running. Is he last? Dead last? Oh dear. This will be bad. What my eye didn't catch in the sea of gray tshirts was Giles crashing a third of the way into the sprint. He picked the lane with the "hidden rut" where apparently many children throughout the day who were destined for blue ribbons ... instead crashed. So the "lessons" to be learned were "good sportsmanship" ... and handling public embarrassment!

This is where I wish I'd paid more attention to Remember the Titans or even The Bad News Bears for some great coaching advice. Somehow ... "you finished - that's great" .. or "better luck next time" or "win some lose some" just wasn't making it all better. I seriously was close to tears myself and just wanted to take him out for a big ice cream so we could cry together.

But he learned ... NOT to pick that lane. So the next event, the 100 yard hurdles ... he claimed a fifth place ribbon. Oh the relief. He is a player. He went on to grab a couple of more ribbons in green and yellow.

Meanwhile, the other two had not ribboned. Grant, being young, could be cajoled and encouraged by telling him he would get his ribbon at the end of all of his events. Since he is new to this scene, and can't read (hallelujah) ... he didn't catch the nuance of the shiny rainbow colored "participation" ribbon.

Then to Lovie. With each event and each no ribbon, whilst her buddies were ribboning, I knew her sweet little heart was sinking a little more. (In addition to the fact that we stayed up way too late the night before to watch the Idol final that we recorded). Cheer up. Cheer up. Your best events are coming ... jump rope and hula hoop. You are going to finish strong!

I must add here that some of her friends also didn't ribbon. But they had no tears (that we saw). Note to mom: emphasize more selflessness!

Five and a half hours later, we reached that final event. Hula Hooping. She has this. I know she does. Her tender emotional state is completely taken from her mother's genes. But hooping, mom could never do.

As she hoops, I'm praying and shooting video. Giles and Grant are cheering. She checks out the competition. More and more are going down. Finally there were four left, and this quad set could have hooped all day (I have the minutes of video to prove it). BUT NO. The organizer had the girls stop and announced they would DOUBLE hoop. Two? She's never doubled!

"You can do it."
"It's the same."
"Steady."
"Steady."

She lasted seven seconds (as per the video) and got a yellow third place ribbon. Funny, she was a big Syesha fan too.

The thrill of victory. The agony of doubles.

I contemplated how I was going to write this for a long time. Thought it would be funny and others would commiserate.

But really. We run the races. We finish. We try again.
While at it, we put others first and glorify God.
Easy. Nope. No one ever said it would be.

She's already planning for next year.

"Mom, I need another hula hoop. No, two more. I'm going to practice with three."

Flying the Coop



Announcing the Robin Triplets (I still think there are only two, but Giles insists there are three)! At least someone has had some egg hatching success around here. We've been watching this nest for a few weeks ... it's under the eave (or is that fascia, I never know), way up there. Too high up to spy on the eggs, the hatchlings or the growth ... or take pictures. Oh, the chicks have a Smart Mama! She should do seminars for celebrity moms on dodging the paparazzi. She's also smart to build her nest way out of reach of Keisha the Hunter (aka, Pouncer, our stray cat). But she is waiting and watching just like us, but for more instinctual, and palatable reasons.

The chicks are big enough to see ... and we feel they will fly the coop very soon. I am keeping the video cam ready!

UPDATE: After a half day of sparrow rehab, Giles was convinced to let it go. After all of that handling and force feeding, I don't know if the poor thing survived after the trauma. But the chick was a good sport ...

Back to nest watching!

His Eye is on the Sparrow

Outgrown

Here is one reason for visionary planning for your family. When we bought our sweet old house that was very BIG at the time, when there were just two of us and no real family planning going on ... (as if) we didn't consider the SIZE of the backyard or that we would someday have TWO boys, one big, and one getting big, who like baseball.

Why, you might ask, do they pitch toward the back door? Very good question. It is preferred over the windows that take up the rest of the space at the back of the house. Although one basement window has met ball.


Why do they pitch toward the house? They hit more than they strike. Despite the photographic evidence.



Why do they use a piece of firewood for a bat? No idea. Bats are in the garage.



Why don't you move? (Be content with what you have!)

Please note the Brinks sign ... so don't even try it.

Who is trying not to show his irritation?


The next picture after the camera holder went inside to finish dinner would have captured the swan song of that plastic thingie over the screen of the back door. GONE!

The lesson: a little vision never hurt anyone. BIG BACK YARD.

Soccer Cubed






Ask us where we will be this Saturday morning AND afternoon?????

NOT at the soccer field.

Hallelujah.

Gas prices. Neglected yard work. And kids who spurn their soccer practice equipment for baseball practice in the back yard (pictures on that coming later). Oh, and the missed time with the kids' friends, birthday parties and other junk.

What a time commitment. I did treasure the family time. Parents in chairs, two kids sitting on our laps while we cheered on the other one. And a little Soccer Mom tan, when it finally warmed up.

With three games each Sat, way across town (with practice during the week - way across town, during rush hour) - most times we would take a picnic and hang out between our breaks which were never much more than an hour.

Last Saturday we had a four-leaf clover hunt during the break. I found one!

We had super fantastic coaches, and met a lot of great people. And observed, er, a lot of family dynamics with some of our teammates. And dealt with a lot of kids who complained about the snack, or wanted more or cried when some awfully irresponsible mom FORGOT the snack. It IS all about the snack.

I know lots of families do this and are way more involved in way more activities than we are, every day of the week. Woah. Makes me tired thinking about it. And seriously, why? Why do we do it?

See ya soccer.